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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson had perhaps the worst performance of his UFC career on Saturday night at UFC 144, losing a one-sided decision to Ryan Bader. There's a reason for the poor performance, though, as Jackson suffered a knee injury in his training camp that not only hampered his ability to cut weight, but his ability to be effective in the fight as well.
In fact, Jackson's doctors advised him not to take the fight, but he was determined to fight in front of the crowd in Japan, even if he felt he'd likely lose.
"If I'm going to be critically honest, I'm not surprised that I lost the fight," Jackson said after the event at the post-fight press conference (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com). "I almost didn't make it to the fight, but I didn't want to pull out for the Japanese fans. I injured my knee pretty bad, and my doctor told me not to fight. But it wasn't real serious. I didn't need surgery or nothing, but he told me it wasn't a good idea to fight. I decided to fight anyway."
Fight he did, but outside of one slam in the second round, he had very little offense in the fight. He also re-injured the knee in the midst of the fight when Bader pulled off a slam on him.
"I re-injured the knee when Bader slammed me," Jackson said. "It was one of those things. I was worried about it. Before the slam, I wasn't doing a really good job. I was worried about it, and I had to lose a lot of weight since I couldn't really run and stuff. It was downhill from there.
"I hurt my knee, and I just wanted to put on an exciting fight, and I was just happy to make it here and try and put on a show for the Japanese fans."
Still, while this was a major setback for Jackson as far as returning to the title picture is concerned, he's not thinking about retirement yet. He said prior to the injury that his camp was going really well, and he hopes to return to form once he's healed.
"I know I'm getting to the end of my career because I said I didn't want to fight past 35," Jackson said. "But honestly, before I hurt me knee, you guys should have seen the way that I was training. I've got really good sparring partners, and I've got this really good wrestler names Tyson Jeffries that kicks my butt, and in this camp, I was kicking his butt. I was taking him down and wrestling got real competitive. That's how I hurt me knee because he's one of the best wrestlers I know.
"I was sparring really good, and I was looking like a superstar, then I hurt me knee. That made me think, 'Oh, man, I've got a lot more time to fight.' When I got hurt, it was just unfortunate, but now, I know what I can do if I come in 100 percent."
Penick's Analysis: It was very apparent that something was wrong with Rampage, and with a bad weight cut because of the injury, plus dealing with the injury in the cage, he put himself at a major disadvantage. Most fighters do come into fights with some type of injury, but more serious things like this knee injury can completely change the complexion of a fight, as it did with this matchup. This isn't at all to take anything away from Ryan Bader, who fought perhaps the smartest fight of his career, but it can't be denied that Jackson's injury played a part in how that fight played out last night.
[Rampage Jackson art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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